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Abstract Photography

Abstract photography, also sometimes known as experimental photography, is the art of creating a visual effect with an image that has no immediate attachment to reality, by using processes like focusing, framing, or retouching and editing the photograph in post-processing. For example, an abstract picture can sometimes isolate a fragment of an ordinary image to remove it from its original context and give it a surrealist edge. It can also involve playing with blurring, shadows or lighting, textures or unexpected forms. The image is often created with traditional photographic material (analog or digital cameras, dark room, computer). However, artists can also manipulate and alter the film in order to achieve the desired effect.

The first images known as “abstract photographs" appeared shortly after the invention of photography in the 1830s. In 1842, John William Draper created a new type of images with a spectroscope. This machine dispersed light beams and produced a phenomenon that was previously invisible to the eye. The negatives he produced had nothing in common with the works of other photographers, and they opened the way for innovative photographic works. Draper perceived these images as a scientific discovery, not as artworks, but today his method is widely acclaimed by critics for its inherent originality.

In England, Anna Atkins was also a pioneer of abstract photography; she was the first one to place dry algae on cyanotype paper. This scientific experiment improved photographic techniques by creating unique blue and white images. Moreover, the discovery of X-ray and radioactivity in 1896 provoked a fascination for the invisible and many photographers were immediately drawn to these phenomena. French photographer Louis Darget attempted to capture mental processes by pressing unexposed plates to the foreheads of his and trying to get them to project images from their minds onto the plates. He carried out thousands of similar experiments.

It was only during the 20th century that abstract photography truly became recognised as an artistic practice. Surrealism and cubism started replacing impressionism, especially after the Salon d'Automne in 1903 in Paris. This event highlighted new talents like Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp… Ten years later, in New York, Wassily Kandinsky, Mondrian, Braque and Delaunay shocked audiences. The freedom coming from abstract art inspired some of the greatest photographers to break the rules.

Erwin Quedenfeldt exhibited the first abstract photographs in Cologne in 1914. From 1920 to 1930, Europe became the epicenters of conceptual photography with artists such as Jaroslav Rossler, Josef Sudeck, and Rössler exploring abstraction.

Post-processing became more central to photographic works in the 60s and the 70s, with artists like Josef Newman. Eventually, the growing popularity of computers in the 90s and the 2000s opened up infinite possibilities for creating original work. Some contemporary photographers like Peter Klasen, Dominic Harris, or Nicolas Dubreuille combine photography with other mediums.

Find them all on Artsper with our unique selection of abstract photographs.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Fine Art Photographs

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price,500 facet,10503*Oeuvres d’artistes best sellers|icon-bestsellers*bestsellers facet,10503*Artworks by best-selling artists|icon-bestsellers*bestsellers facet,10503*Werke von Bestseller-Künstlern|icon-bestsellers*werke-von-kunstlern-bestseller facet,10503*Obras de los artistas más vendidos|icon-bestsellers*obras-de-los-artistas-mas-vendidos category,6*Peinture*peinture category,6*Painting*painting category,6*Gemälde*gemalde category,6*Pintura*pintura price,501:1000 facet,10500*Young Talents|icon-youngtalents*youngtalents facet,10500*Oeuvres d'artistes émergents|icon-youngtalents*jeunes-talents facet,10500*Werke von aufstrebenden Künstlern|icon-youngtalents*werke-von-jungen-kunstlern facet,10500*Obras de artistas emergentes|icon-youngtalents*obras-de-artistas-emergentes facet,10500*Werke aufstrebender Künstler|icon-youngtalents*werke-von-jungen-kunstlern facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)|medium*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)|medium*moyen facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)|large*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)|large*grand facet,1629*Abstraite*abstraite facet,1629*abstrakt*abstrakt facet,1629*Abstract*abstract facet,1629*abstracto*abstracto facet,10497*Oeuvres d'artistes célèbres|icon-masterpieces*artistes-celebres facet,10497*Artworks by famous artists|icon-masterpieces*masterpieces facet,10497*Werke berühmter Künstler|icon-masterpieces*werke-beruhmter-kunstler facet,10497*Obras de artistas famosos|icon-masterpieces*obras-de-artistas-famosos facet,8259*Our recommendations|icon-recommendations*recommendations facet,8259*unsere Empfehlungen|icon-recommendations*unsere-empfehlungen facet,8259*Nos recommandations|icon-recommendations*recommandations facet,8259*Nuestras recomendaciones|icon-recommendations*nuestras-recomendaciones price,1001:5000 facet,1635*Street art*street-art facet,1635*arte callejero*arte-callejero facet,1635*Straßenkunst*street-art category,5*Sculpture*sculpture category,5*Skulptur*skulptur category,5*Escultura*escultura category,9*Photography*photography category,9*Photographie*photographie category,9*Fotografie*fotografie category,9*Fotografía*fotografia facet,1671*Nature*nature facet,1671*Natur*natur facet,1671*Naturaleza*naturaleza facet,1644*Portrait*portrait facet,1644*Porträt*portrat facet,1644*Retrato*retrato facet,1686*Pop Art*pop-art facet,1686*Arte pop*arte-pop facet,1686*Pop-Art*pop-art facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)*tres-grand facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)|very-large*tres-grand facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)|very-large*tres-grand category,23*Dessin*dessin category,23*Zeichnung*zeichnung category,23*Fine Art Drawings*drawing category,23*Dibujo*dibujo price,1000:501 facet,1641*Akt*akte facet,1641*Nus*nus facet,1641*desnudos*desnudos facet,1641*Nude*nude category,15*Edition*edition category,15*Print*print category,15*Druck*editionen category,15*Edición*edicion facet,1827*Portrait*orientation-portrait facet,1827*Hochformat*orientation-portrat facet,1827*Portrait|portrait*orientation-portrait facet,1827*Retrato*orientation-retrato facet,1827*Retrato|portrait*orientation-retrato facet,1827*Hochformat|portrait*orientation-portrat facet,8277*Large (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)|large*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)|large*large facet,1830*Paysage*orientation-paysage facet,1830*Paisaje*orientation-paisaje facet,1830*Landscape*orientation-landscape facet,1830*Landschaft*orientation-landschaft facet,1830*Paisaje|landscape*orientation-paisaje facet,1830*Paysage|landscape*orientation-paysage facet,1830*Landschaft|landscape*orientation-landschaft facet,1830*Landscape|landscape*orientation-landscape facet,8301*Oeuvres en promotion|icon-promotions*promotions facet,8301*Special Offers|icon-promotions*vergunstigte-werke facet,8301*Special offers|icon-promotions*promotions facet,8301*Trabajos en promoción|icon-promotions*trabajos-en-promocion facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)|medium*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)|medium*medium facet,1674*Etchleben*etchleben facet,1674*Scène de vie*scene-de-vie facet,1674*Everyday life*everyday-life facet,1674*Escena de la vida*escena-de-la-vida facet,1680*Tier*tier facet,1680*Animales*animales facet,1680*Animaux*animaux facet,1680*Animal*animal facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 50 x 50 cm)*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 20 x 20 inch)*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 50 x 50 cm)|small*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 20 x 20 inch)|small*petit facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)|very-large*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)|very-large*very-large facet,126*acrylique*acrylique facet,126*acrylic*acrylic facet,126*Acryl-*acryl facet,126*acrílico*acrilico facet,108*huile*huile facet,108*al oleo*al-oleo facet,108*oil*oil facet,108*Öl*ol price,50001 facet,1668*Noir et blanc*noir-et-blanc facet,1668*Black and white*black-and-white facet,1668*Schwarz und weiß*schwarz-und-weiss facet,1668*Blanco y negro*blanco-y-negro price,5001:10000 facet,1632*Architecture*architecture facet,1632*Die Architektur*die-architektur facet,1632*Arquitectura*arquitectura facet,1659*Flore*flore facet,1659*Flora*flora facet,1659*Floral*floral facet,1659*Flores*flores facet,1650*Paysage urbain*paysage-urbain facet,1650*Paisaje urbano*paisaje-urbano facet,1650*Städtische Landschaft*stadtische-landschaft facet,1650*Urban Landscape*urban-landscape facet,12*noir|050002*noir facet,12*Black|050002*black facet,12*schwarz|050002*schwarz facet,12*negro|050002*negro price,10001:25000 facet,42*Rouge|FC2912*rouge facet,42*Red|FC2912*red facet,42*rot|FC2912*rot facet,42*Rojo|FC2912*rojo price,25001:50000 facet,30*Dark blue|0707BD*dark-blue facet,30*bleu foncé|0707BD*bleu-fonce facet,30*Dunkelblau|0707BD*dunkelblau facet,30*azul oscuro|0707BD*azul-oscuro facet,1692*Geometric*geometric facet,1692*Géométrique*geometrique facet,1692*Geometrisch*geometrisch facet,1692*Geometría*geometria
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Sven Pfrommer, Abstract Scanography VII, Photography

Sven Pfrommer

Abstract Scanography VII, 2019
120 x 90 x 3 cm
Photography

$2,627

Jacques Renoir, Allumettes 1, Photography

Jacques Renoir

Allumettes 1, 2015
57 x 40 cm
Photography

$1,721

Alain Kramer, Barc 1507-25 - série Photos absraite, Photography

Alain Kramer

Barc 1507-25 - série Photos absraite, 2015
81 x 60 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$1,290

Bernhard Lang, L'huile en Gros Plan_014, Photography

Bernhard Lang

L'huile en Gros Plan_014, 2021
75 x 100 x 2 cm
Photography

$1,480

Linda Chapman, Colour Wrap, Photography

Linda Chapman

Colour Wrap, 2019
40 x 40 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$912

Our recommendations Thomas Ruff, Substrat 31 III, Photography

Thomas Ruff

Substrat 31 III, 2021
34 x 51 cm
Photography

$3,212

Manolo Chretien, Exoplanète #5, Photography

Manolo Chretien

Exoplanète #5, 2021
80 x 80 x 5 cm
Photography

$4,015

Mahtab Hussain, Door detail from my mother's home, Photography

Mahtab Hussain

Door detail from my mother's home, 2016
60 x 42.5 x 1 cm
Photography

$8,204

Walter and Zoniel, Toki-3-Em/n (The Knot of Future), Photography

Walter and Zoniel

Toki-3-Em/n (The Knot of Future), 2014
100 x 140 x 5 cm
Photography

$16,409

Jean-Marc Stoeffler, Cascade en Vercors, Photography

Jean-Marc Stoeffler

Cascade en Vercors, 2019
37 x 47 x 1 cm
Photography

$287

Angeles Peña, Hielos de San Rafael (Patagonia), Photography

Angeles Peña

Hielos de San Rafael (Patagonia), 2015
99.1 x 69.9 x 0.3 cm
Photography

$500

Our recommendations Konstantin Kornakov, Codes esthétiques 0373, Photography

Konstantin Kornakov

Codes esthétiques 0373, 2015
60 x 45 cm
Photography

$803

Our recommendations Yann Merran, Murano, Photography

Yann Merran

Murano, 2010
90 x 60 x 2 cm
Photography

$803

Patrick Chappert-Gaujal, Sans titre, Photography

Patrick Chappert-Gaujal

Sans titre, 2018
94 x 74 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$1,950

Our recommendations Paul Snell, Trace # 201904, Photography

Paul Snell

Trace # 201904, 2019
120 x 49 cm
Photography

$4,512

Frédérique Bouet, Tracer l'horizon 11, Photography

Frédérique Bouet

Tracer l'horizon 11, 2012
60 x 60 x 4 cm
Photography

$1,543

Our recommendations Seb Janiak, Gravity - Liquid 05, Photography

Seb Janiak

Gravity - Liquid 05, 2014
110 x 86 cm
Photography

$6,017

Richard Caldicott, Untitled 109, Photography

Richard Caldicott

Untitled 109, 1999
36 x 28 cm
Photography

$1,367

Our recommendations Tiantian Xu, L'encre dansant : avril, Photography

Tiantian Xu

L'encre dansant : avril, 2014
100 x 100 cm
Photography

$2,524

Shine Huang, Rebirth II, Photography

Shine Huang

Rebirth II, 2018
50.8 x 40.6 x 0.3 cm
Photography

$1,800

Nagsoul, Gina (Butts and crotches), Photography

Nagsoul

Gina (Butts and crotches), 2020
60 x 40 cm
Photography

$447

Our recommendations Madeleine Gross, Rainbow Boat Scene, Photography

Madeleine Gross

Rainbow Boat Scene, 2020
45.7 x 30.5 x 2.5 cm
Photography

$2,000

Jérémie Lenoir, #6561087, Salt lake, Photography

Jérémie Lenoir

#6561087, Salt lake, 2017
80 x 80 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$3,212

Javier Rey, Recordings (Arias), Photography

Javier Rey

Recordings (Arias), 2020
80 x 53 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,000

Imagilaire, Dcsq by BTNHMCRWL (Amsterdam), Photography

Imagilaire

Dcsq by BTNHMCRWL (Amsterdam), 2019
60 x 60 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$918

Luuk De Haan, Nine Rectangles 1, Photography

Luuk De Haan

Nine Rectangles 1, 2017
49.5 x 42 cm
Photography

$1,846

Philip Provily, Bleue, Photography

Philip Provily

Bleue, 2006
57 x 45 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,377

Jason Engelund, Real (Abstract photography), Photography

Jason Engelund

Real (Abstract photography), 2020
76 x 61 cm
Photography

$2,188

Arthur Hent, Self-Portrait 20.62, Photography

Arthur Hent

Self-Portrait 20.62, 2020
40 x 30 x 2.5 cm
Photography

$688 $551

Eli Joteva, CryoLumen Storm Print: Snow Water in a Snow Storm, 1-hour exposure (Rila National Park), January 17, 2021, Photography

Eli Joteva

CryoLumen Storm Print: Snow Water in a Snow Storm, 1-hour exposure (Rila National Park), January 17, 2021, 2021
100 x 80 x 4 cm
Photography

$964

Venelina Katanska, Divine, Photography

Venelina Katanska

Divine, 2015
90 x 135 cm
Photography

$516

Our recommendations Jean-Paul Baret, N°2064, Photography

Jean-Paul Baret

N°2064, 2018
100 x 65 cm
Photography

$855

Elise Vincent, Lucy - série univers oniriques intérieurs, Photography

Elise Vincent

Lucy - série univers oniriques intérieurs, 2020
80 x 80 x 1 cm
Photography

$1,377

Dominique Moreau, Abys, Photography

Dominique Moreau

Abys, 2016
66 x 100 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$1,354

Pol Durruff, Sans titre, Photography

Pol Durruff

Sans titre, 2018
62 x 54 x 4 cm
Photography

$1,239

Our recommendations Cat Soubbotnik, Longueur d'ondes, Photography

Cat Soubbotnik

Longueur d'ondes, 2012
168 x 160 x 3 cm
Photography

$7,800

Stéphane Martin, Hydrocarbure, Photography

Stéphane Martin

Hydrocarbure, 2018
40 x 30 x 0.04 cm
Photography

$172

Our recommendations Marie-Fa Lazzari, Rubis, Photography

Marie-Fa Lazzari

Rubis, 2014
37 x 27 cm
Photography

$430 $388

Tenesh Webber, Loops 1, Photography

Tenesh Webber

Loops 1, 2015
28 x 28 cm
Photography

$2,735

Gisela Gaffoglio, Mediodía, Photography

Gisela Gaffoglio

Mediodía, 2018
75 x 48 x 1 cm
Photography

$1,032

Strahil Penev, Total Screen II, Photography

Strahil Penev

Total Screen II, 2021
78 x 57 x 1 cm
Photography

$562

Marie-Laure Possovre, Prairie, Photography

Marie-Laure Possovre

Prairie, 2019
30 x 60 cm
Photography

$126

Aleksandros Kanellopoulos, Alien, Photography

Aleksandros Kanellopoulos

Alien, 2017
70 x 50 cm
Photography

$195

James Godman, 070425, Photography

James Godman

070425, 2007
91.5 x 91.5 cm
Photography

$1,504

Zigmunds Orlovskis, Microbial Map of Middle Earth, Photography

Zigmunds Orlovskis

Microbial Map of Middle Earth, 2019
40 x 40 cm
Photography

$115

Philippe Piccardi, Le chaos est une structure, Photography

Philippe Piccardi

Le chaos est une structure, 2017
60 x 60 cm
Photography

$201

Robertas Ursache, A flower within a flower, Photography

Robertas Ursache

A flower within a flower, 2017
30 x 30 cm
Photography

$109

Olivier Liégent, Canonus de caelo, Photography

Olivier Liégent

Canonus de caelo, 2014
51 x 90 x 2 cm
Photography

$1,721

Michel Verna, Tango au couchant - série paysage abstrait, Photography

Michel Verna

Tango au couchant - série paysage abstrait, 2020
60 x 90 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$860

Pierre Lan, Beauté de la résilience #2, Photography

Pierre Lan

Beauté de la résilience #2, 2020
50 x 76 cm
Photography

$975

Sophie Derrick, Close to nothing (Pink), Photography

Sophie Derrick

Close to nothing (Pink), 2015
42 x 30 x 8 cm
Photography

$1,641

Our recommendations Corinne Cavillac, Colombes A, Photography

Corinne Cavillac

Colombes A, 2017
150 x 100 cm
Photography

$2,065

Our recommendations Barnaby Irish, Deep Field 1, Photography

Barnaby Irish

Deep Field 1, 2019
38 x 28.5 cm
Photography

$746

Our recommendations Gottfried Jäger, Photo 111103.4, Photography

Gottfried Jäger

Photo 111103.4, 2011
70 x 70 x 3 cm
Photography

$8,030

Jean-Claude Byandb, Apparition() Disparition, Photography

Jean-Claude Byandb

Apparition() Disparition, 2015
60 x 45 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$700

Sandra Salamonová, Just Blue, Photography

Sandra Salamonová

Just Blue, 2019
50 x 50 cm
Photography

$918

Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarreye, Yam seeds in my grandmother’s country, Photography

Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarreye

Yam seeds in my grandmother’s country, 2020
180 x 120 x 3 cm
Photography

$36,707

Robert Charles Mann, Solargraph 20180621-13, Photography

Robert Charles Mann

Solargraph 20180621-13, 2018
60 x 84 cm
Photography

$4,588

Ana Popescu, XI Serie I have been there, Photography

Ana Popescu

XI Serie I have been there, 2021
20 x 15 x 4 cm
Photography

$459

Damien De Bellis, Belly's Pollens, Photography

Damien De Bellis

Belly's Pollens, 2018
70 x 70 cm
Photography

$264

Gérard Allaguillemette, Immobilités #04, Photography

Gérard Allaguillemette

Immobilités #04, 2019
20 x 150 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$287

Maureen J Haldeman, Defining Shadows IV, Photography

Maureen J Haldeman

Defining Shadows IV, 2019
61 x 45.7 x 0.6 cm
Photography

$750

Basilio Giangreco, This is not a starry night, Photography

Basilio Giangreco

This is not a starry night, 2020
26 x 40 cm
Photography

$126

Axel Cournac, Les Amours d'Yvette, Photography

Axel Cournac

Les Amours d'Yvette, 2020
30 x 20 cm
Photography

$92

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